…Author Brendan Gerad O’Brien shows y’can take the Irishman out of Ireland, but…

…but trying to remove the Eire would be an error…

bren

1 – Tell us about your connection with Wales:

I was born in Tralee on the west coast of Ireland and came to the UK when I joined the Royal Navy at 18. It was while I was on a course in Portsmouth that I met a beautiful Welsh girl, Jennifer Marshall, who was on holiday from Newport, South Wales. After a short romance we got married and when my service contract ended we went to live in Newport to be near her family. We’ve been there ever since.

2 – Tell us about yourself as a writer and as a person:

When I won my first writing competition I was so excited I ran all the way home. I was about eight years old. The Fun Fair was coming to Tralee – our little town on the West coast of Ireland – and apart from Duffy’s Circus which came in September, this was the highlight of our year. Our English teacher asked us to write an essay about it, and I won the only prize – a book of ten tickets for the fair.

So writing was in my blood from a very young age. I loved essays and English literature

My grand-uncle Moss Scanlon had a small Harness Maker’s shop in Lower William Street, Listowel – a rural town in Kerry that was just a bus ride from Tralee – where I spent some wonderful summer holidays. The shop had a magnet for all sorts of colourful characters who’d wander in for a chat and a bit of jovial banter. One famous storyteller who often popped in was John B Keane, and I asked him once where he got his ideas from. He told me that everyone has a story to tell, so be patient and just listen to them.

And I was there when John B’s very first story was read out live on Radio Eireann. I can still remember the buzz of excitement and the sheer pride of the people of Listowel. And the seeds of storytelling were sown in my soul.

Another source of encouragement was Bryan MacMahon, one of Listowel’s finest writers and a schoolmaster to boot, who was a very easy person to talk to.

Anyway, I left school at fourteen and went to work in hotels in Killarney, and I quickly got caught up in the excitement and colourful buzz of the tourist industry – remember, this was in the 60s when the Beatles were creating a heady revolution and engulfing the youth with hopes and dreams of a wonderful future – so I felt no great urgency to write. I dreamed of being a writer, of course. I wanted to be a writer – but somehow life just got in the way.

When I joined the Royal Navy at eighteen I was sent to the Far East. I spent the first three years between Singapore and Hong Kong, and again I was having so much fun I didn’t get to write anything, although there were loads of stories bursting to get out.

It was only when I got married and the children came along that I made any serious attempt to put pen to paper, and the result was Dark September, an alternative history novel set in Newport during WW2.

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I loved writing it – I always write in longhand – but I hated having to type it. After working a ten hour day, I’d be clattering away into the early hours on an old Olivetti typewriter and getting on everyone’s nerves. Then I’d scream in frustration when I’d discover that hours of hard work were ruined by some horrendous typo error, and I’d have to start all over again.

Amazingly, I found an agent almost immediately but she insisted on some major changes so I spent a year re-writing it.

Unfortunately my agent died suddenly and the agency closed. It took ages to find another agent, but he too demanded even more changes. It became too much for Jennifer and the kids, so my manuscript hibernated in the attic for a few years.

Then Jennifer bought me a computer for Christmas – with Spellcheck!

This time finding an agent has proved impossibility – they only want to represent people who’re famous for just being famous – but now I’m delighted to say the book has been accepted by Tirgearr Publishing and I’m delighted with the result and all the hard work they’ve put into it to make it a great success.

In the meantime – while my book was languishing in limbo – I discovered that writing short stories is amazingly therapeutic. I get a great buzz from taking an idea and developing it, often watching it evolve into something completely different from how it started out. And I realized too that great ideas are all around us. Little gems are waiting to be harvested everywhere we look. I found myself listening to what people are saying, and the way they say it.

For instance, the Irish are famous all over the world for their colourful and exaggerated expressions, always using a dozen words when one would have done. So I build on that and set all my short stories in Ireland. The names are changed, of course, because I don’t earn enough to survive a lawsuit. I’ve written hundreds of stories, most of which are still stuffed in drawers somewhere, but I did manage to get more than twenty of them published over the years, in anthologies, e-zines and magazines as well as web sites.

DREAMIN’ DREAMS, published as an eBook with Smashwords.com and in paperback by CreateSpace – contains twenty of my published stories, of which I’m very proud. They’re all based on real people who passed through my life at some time or other, or events that actually happened to me. Enhanced, of course, and sometimes exaggerated out of all proportion.

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The title comes from something my father said years ago, when I got poor grades at school. ‘What do you expect?’ he said to my mother. ‘He never does any studying. He just sits there, dreamin’ dreams.’

The image on the cover is the statue in The Green, Tralee’s town park, and it represents the characters from the song The Rose of Tralee.

3 – Why did you decide to write in your chosen genre?

My favourite reading material has always been fast paced thrillers, murder mysteries, war stories. I write what I think I would like to read.

4 – Tell us about the concept behind your first book

The idea for Dark September came to me when I was in the Royal Navy and we were on exercise in the Brecon Beacons. I wondered what it would be like to be running for your life through such inhospitable terrain from someone who wants to do you a serious injury.

Later on I saw some disturbing footage of Nazi guards disposing of people with special needs and I felt tremendous sympathy for their families. How would I react if I was in that position and Germany invaded the UK? Where would |I take my child? Being Irish I felt it would be natural to gravitate to Ireland, which was neutral during WW2.

Of course once I started writing the story it took on a life of its own. Characters reacted in ways I never intended. People who were created as decent characters turned into monsters half way through a chapter, even a sentence. It was exciting and disturbing all at the same time, and I enjoyed every moment of writing it.

My favourite character is Danny O’Shea – vulnerable, naïve, basically honest but thrown into a situation that he has to face into or go under. I see a lot of myself in him. Not sure who could play him in a film – someone who was sensitive – Aidan Turner, perhaps. The theme tune would be Running up the Hill by Kate Bush, all thudding drums and loud pulsing music.

One concern I did have about the story was making Cerys and Bethan Frost direct descendants of the famous John Frost, a treasured character in Welsh history. They started out as beautiful, kind and loving girls but they got corrupted by both love and promised riches. But so far I haven’t had any negative feedback on that aspect, although some people thought the sudden sex and brutal violence should have been flagged up in the blurb.

5 – Which Welsh person would you like to invite to dinner and what would you serve?

John Frost. I would love to know what makes a man stand out from the crowd and put himself in harm’s way while pursuing a principal. What did he think about the justice system at the time, and people who were steeped in religion but oozing hypocrisy from every pore? And I would serve Welsh lamb, carrots and new potatoes with Welsh Ale from a keg.

6 – What’s the best thing about Wales?

Its similarity to Ireland. Parts of West Wales are so like the places where I ran as a lad in Kerry. Listening to Owen Money every Saturday makes me laugh. The warmth he displays fascinates me – I could be listening to Kerry Radio. And of course my wife …

7 – What are you working on now?

I’ve just finished self-publishing another thriller called Gallows Field.

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This one is set in Tralee during WW2. A crowded pub. The music is loud. The singing is louder. Joe McCarthy is shot dead. And no one sees a thing. Available through Smashwords and Amazon.

8 – How did you find the experience of self-publishing?

To be honest I always hoped my work would be snapped up by a main stream publisher who would take responsibility for the sales and advertising. But the reality is totally different. Most publishers now demand that the author does as much self-promotion as possible while imposing restrictions on pricing. I love the writing aspect of it all, but I’m not comfortable pushing for sales and reviews. There are companies who will promote your work for you but it cost more than you’ll ever make in sales. But if you want people to read your stuff you have to put it out there so the world will notice it.

9 – What’s your advice to new writers?

If you are a budding writer, or just thinking about trying your hand at writing, remember to have fun with it. Be aware that very few writers make it to the top of the tree – those that do will tell you that it involves a copious amount of self-publications and a shed full of luck. And of course a good story too.

Yes, take your craft seriously – it’s a God given talent and it’s your duty to share it with the world – but enjoy it too. Just don’t get so immersed in it that you lose track of the people you really care about, the ones you’re proud to show it to first. (And listen to them, as well, even if what they’re saying isn’t what you want to hear!)

And keep working at it, even if it’s just 100 words every day, because every time you write something, you’re fine-tuning your skills.

10 – What are you currently reading?

Val McDermid Wire in the Blood. In paperback.

11 – What’s your favourite book?

So many it would be hard to whittle it down to just one. The Wind in the Willows had the most magical effect on me – I lived in that story and still get the feeling whenever I sit on a riverbank. I also remember running home from school to listen to Treasure Island and Robinson Crusoe being read on the radio. In my teens I was hooked on Mickey Spillane and Zane Grey, but now I have to say Val McDermid is my all-time favourite. Followed closely by Ann Cleeves and Andy McNab.

…thanks for sharing, Brendan… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!

ALL MY BLOG POSTS ARE FREE TO SHARE OR RE-BLOG SHOULD YOU SO WISH—BE MY GUEST!

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…Author pal, E.A. Setser’s got yeez covered… or has he?…

Author E.A. Setser’s Guest Post offering for yeez today is a straight entry from his own blog page recently… and it’s a bit of an eye-opener for emb’dy in the scribbler business looking for advice on the best approach to yer book’s cover page… here he is:

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Take a look at this picture. No, really. Take a good long look at it.

Elder Blood Cover - Original

You probably want to laugh at it, and that’s okay. I do, too. Because, let’s be honest, it’s crap.

But here’s the thing. It’s my fault that it’s crap. Not my cover artist’s. Not only was that atrocity of three different typefaces entirely my doing, but the concept and the medium used were by my request. She made what I asked her to make, and she did a good job of it. The problem was that what I asked her to make was crap.

What’s inside holds up pretty well, I’d say. You can see for yourself, if you’d like. The problem is that understanding the cover requires reading the book, and the cover doesn’t make people curious to read the book.

I once spent $300 for a promotional campaign through a Facebook Page which, for their poor handling of the matter, shall remain nameless. The biggest buzz I got was when someone Shared it on their personal page where he and his friends gossiped about how bad the cover was and complained that their books weren’t being promoted. (All they had to do was email the Page’s admin, but apparently, being salty was more productive.)

That guy was kind of a jerk, but I did learn two important things. One: Don’t use multiple fonts on your cover text. Two: This cover is bad enough that it’s driving customers away.

So now, I have a friend working on a rebuff of this cover. At my insistence, he’s working at his own pace. He does have other stuff going on, after all. So, I don’t know when it will be done, but sometime in the near-ish future, that old cover will be retired and replaced with a new and better cover.

So, I guess this is another one of those pancake moments. I’m throwing out the first one.

Although I really loathe that saying. It’s among the farthest-from-the-truth truisms that I can relate to the point of. I don’t know anybody who consistently burns their first pancake.

“You don’t marry your first lover” could be a more apt truism for needing to let go of your first something-or-other. Off the top of my head, every married or cohabitating couple that I know personally dated other people before each other. But when they were with their first, it would be reasonable to assume they loved them at the time.

But I also know that some people do marry their first lover. I’ve seen it happen. I just don’t know them personally anymore. “You don’t make a career of your first job” is probably even better. I’ve only ever met one person who did that. Got his first full time job at 18 and was still there at 55.

Anyway, I just got off on a huge tangent, and I apologize for that. Back to what I was talking about, the artist and I had a nice big laugh over his misinterpretation of the original cover. He thought that this…

Biker Helmet Nope

… was a motorcycle helmet. And that these…

Head Arms Nope

… were coming out of the guy’s head. He then referred to him as Doctor Octagonopus.

Doctor Octagonopus

Oh, and this whole thing about not keeping your first only applies to the first cover of the first book. I put more thought — or any at all — into the cover of my next book, and I communicated a lot more — again, or at all — with the artist throughout the design process. This is what came of it.

Into Antiquity Cover Small

And this is what’s inside, because that’s what counts.

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…we happy Band of Bookly Brothers…once a scribbler always a scribbler…

…I first had the pleasure of meeting with Author Jim McAllister several years ago in one of Abu Dhabi’s swankier lunch eateries (none o’ yer McDonald’s fine dining for us, Mabel)… both being of Scottish genes, the elaborate performance about who paid the bill is still being talked about in hushed corridors… nonetheless, a few years elapsed, until this week, we were reunited, this time in Manama in Bahrain, in one of the city’s Costa Coffee outlets… how the mighty epicureans have fallen, eh?… never mind, regardless of the hoi polloi-ish surroundings, the occasion was NUTHIN short of glorious… plugging back in with old (I use the WURD advisedly) pals is always great fun, but more especially so when yeez are both writers… ‘way back then, I read and reviewed Jim’s tour de force, ‘ iNation, To Dry The Tears of a Billion Children’, (look for it under ‘James Mcallister’), and unashamedly I repeat it here…

iNation
…imagine a world conceived by George Orwell, Einstein, Groucho Marx, and Larry Flynt… throw in the realisation that the internet and all its spawn have deeply imbedded their irresistible tentacles into almost EVERY element of humanity, and how the world is run and controlled… introduce an ageing one-time rock star with the ultimate altruism as his grail.. to feed the world’s hungry… sprinkle in a young, sexy, one-time abused vamp with a genius IQ… line them up against the powers that be who manipulate the planet’s riches, economies, politics and even for many, LIFE itself… empower them with the capability of taking on and defeating these vested interests on a massive scale… and you have the guts of ‘iNation’… this is by far and away the most intriguing novel I’ve read for many years… it contains lots of direct and indirect ‘invented’ computer-related virtual existences, but even I, a confessed complete novice on all things to do with the internet and computers, enjoyed the narrative immensely… there’s Machiavellian conniving at the highest levels of governments… there’s enough sex to keep the steam high… the action flits in nano-seconds across continents, and into fortresses of protected artificial intelligence … the incredible becomes credible … reality merges with mirages … and all through, the author’s throw-away droll humour seeps everywhere… this novel is an astonishing, delightful, highly entertaining tour de force… treat yourself and grab a copy…
Biography
jim
James McAllister, well what can be said about him? Difficult, awkward and a raving loony are just a few of the words used to describe him. Add in reclusive and argumentative and you have the complete picture.
His debut novel follows his empathy with the downtrodden of the world, although the detailed instructions on how to destroy the Catholic Church was described by the Pope as ‘a step too far’. The book ‘iNation’ is now on the curriculum in Quantico in the ‘Cyber Warfare Defense’ classes, although there is no record of the FBI buying a copy. His demands that the FBI pay the $7 download fee has gone unnoticed.In line with his atheist views he has completely ignored the call by the Geeks of the World to be their leader, quoting ‘it would just be another religion guys, but anyway you had me at ELHO’.

He is currently working on the second book of the iNation trilogy called ‘iNation and the Reason for the Meaning of Life’.

He lives in Dubai with his long suffering wife and a collection of self-portraits (described by Simon Schama as ‘ghastly’)

…treat yourselves by downloading a copy, Lads and Lassies of Blog Land… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!...

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…elementary, m’dears… Authoress M. Pepper Langlinais and The Case of The Macho Myth…

…in a literary WURLD of stereotyped characterization, my dear friend, Authoress and Playwright, Manda Pepper Langlinais, (who shares my fascination with all things Sherlockish), bids yeez take another view…

Bad Boys Need Not Apply

Pepper

M Pepper Langlinais

There is a common thought or saying that girls always want bad boys and that “nice guys finish last.” Books these days are littered with muscled alpha males—or I assume they are based on the half-dressed, tattooed men on so many covers. And these books sell, so I guess there is some truth to that old saying.

Well, I always knew I was weird.

I don’t dig alphas. I’m not into muscles. I don’t mind tattoos, though I’m not particularly drawn to them either. And I certainly don’t enjoy men with repressed anger issues that a main female* character needs to get through to find the guy’s ooey-gooey center. The idea that, if only she puts in some effort, and that only she can redeem him . . . It doesn’t work for me. Not even as a fantasy.

So what do I go for? Tall, thin, smart, well dressed. Even better if there’s an accent of some kind.

I suspect my taste in leading men was largely shaped by a formative addiction to the movie Young Sherlock Holmes. Holmes as a character had already been firmly established in my life—my father read Doyle and Meyer and watched the Granada television series. On the somewhat comedic side I’d seen The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes and the Peter Cook/Dudley Moore take on Hound of the Baskervilles. Dad also had this Sherlock Holmes Scrapbook that I enjoyed paging through. So I was perfectly primed for a Holmes tale aimed at my age bracket. Nicholas Rowe’s portrayal of a teen version of the great detective became a template upon which to embroider my pre-teen daydreams and eventually my writing.Manda 3manda 2

Which is why you will find, aside from the Doyle-inspired Holmes himself, characters who fit a similar description in my books. Reserved, intelligent men who sometimes come off as cold. Instead of anger issues, my leading men have difficulty showing their hearts for fear it will undermine their brilliance. Instead of the heat traditionally associated with alpha males and bad boys, I lean toward ice. The fun is in chipping away at them until I (and the readers) discover what it takes to boil their otherwise frigid blood.

About Manda

M Pepper Langlinais is a produced playwright and screenwriter as well as published author. She is best known for her Sherlock Holmes stories and is also the creator of the gay British spy Peter Stoller. Her foray into YA fantasy arrives on August 5 with Changers: Manifesting Destiny. Find her books on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/M-Pepper-Langlinais/e/B008FBOSPE/ and Like her on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/mpepperlanglinais

…thanks for this, m’Lady, Manda… see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!...

 

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…my friend, Mary K. Miraglia, rocks this provincial newsroom piece…

…from the treasure chest that is my Guest Blog inbox today, comes a terrific gem from my pal, Mary Miraglia… the piece revolves around the idiosyncrasies of an instantaneously recognizable workplace environment, whether yeez have ever been on a journalist’s chair or any other workplace office… hilariously bang on the button… LUV IT! … enjoy…

mary

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…d’yeez know emb’dy who invents WURDS?… my pal Dave Robertson does…

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…if yeez like historically-flavoured novels, Robin Levin’s is just the ticket…

WzW-Cover

…my pal, author, Robin Levin has a new book for yeez…

My new novel, in the Wake of Hannibal is now available on Amazon and Kindle.

The Death of Carthage told the story of the Second Punic War, between Rome and Carthage, from the point of view of the Romans. In the Wake of Hannibal tells the same story from the point of view of the Carthaginians. In the Wake of Hannibal has three narrators. There is Mago, the younger brother of Hannibal, Gisco, Mago’s best friend from early childhood, and Gisco’s Spanish wife, Sansara. Mago is utterly devoted to his brother’s cause: “I had always worshiped my brother Hannibal from afar, as he left Carthage for Spain when I was five. Even when I went to Spain five years ago to join the Carthaginian army under our brother-in-law Hasdrubal the Fair, Hannibal and I never spent time alone together. As second in command he was constantly busy and constantly surrounded by underlings demanding his time. It came as a surprise when, shortly before our attack on Saguntum, he called me to his tent for a private conference. As I entered his tent I saw him seated at a small table poring over a map. There was a platter of bread and venison on the table, a bowl of fruit, a flask of wine and two cups. He pointed toward the victuals and said ‘Help yourself, Mago.’ I nodded my thanks and took a small hunk of the meat and poured myself some wine. ‘Mago,’ he said, ‘As you know, we will be taking on the Romans after we destroy Saguntum. I plan to take the army over the Alps, an arduous journey, and I think that the war will go on for several years. Are you with me on this? If you have any second thoughts, let me know now.’ ‘Hannibal,’ I replied, ‘Why would you even ask me that question? You know I’m with you all the way on this. I am more than willing to die for our cause!’ ‘I ask this because it is my intention that you will be the most important person in the army after myself.’ said Hannibal. ‘You will be the key to my strategy to defeat the Romans in battle.’”

Gisco is utterly devoted to Mago. He is also deeply in love with his Spanish wife, Sansara: “I thought of Sansara and the coming child. Despite my complaints about her inability to speak Phoenician, I loved her dearly. She was a willing and able bed partner. This would mean that I would have to leave her and risk losing her. On the other hand, I could not imagine leaving Mago’s side. We had been friends ever since I could remember. Besides, I was a man and a soldier of Carthage, and I knew that I had a duty to my country.”

Sansara is equally devoted to Gisco. Despite being compelled to marry him in order to cement an alliance between her tribe and the Carthaginians, she has come to love him. She, however, has no liking for Hannibal and his schemes. She sees the war from the perspective of an outsider: “Mago follows Hannibal blindly, and Gisco follows Mago blindly. Hannibal. How I loathe that man! Everyone around me worships him, but to me he is a monster. I hold my tongue around his devotees.”

Ultimately, Gisco is forced to choose between his country and his family. After following Hannibal over the Alps and participating in the battles of Trebia, Trasimene and Cannae, Mago and Gisco return to Carthage where Mago tries to persuade the Carthaginian Senate to provide reinforcements to Hannibal. Hannibal’s other brother, Hasdrubal, however, has lost a major battle in Spain and the reinforcements are sent to Spain instead. Mago and Gisco return to Spain where Gisco is reunited with Sansara. Gisco is delighted to learn that she has born him a son, little Gisco. The following year, she bears another son whom they name Hanno. Hanno is a particularly beautiful infant and he comes to the notice of Indibal, the priest of Tanit and Baal-Hammon, who has a disturbing dream about him. Indibal summons Gisco and demands that he sacrifice the child as a burnt offering to the gods. Faced with an impossible dilemma, Gisco takes the only course he can think of-he flees Kart Hadasht with his wife, three young children and two freedmen and seeks asylum from the Romans in Tarraco. He knows that the Romans will demand information from him in exchange for asylum, and that if he is ever captured by Carthaginian agents, he will be crucified as a traitor.

…see yeez later… LUV YEEZ!

ALL MY BLOG POSTS ARE FREE TO SHARE OR RE-BLOG SHOULD YOU SO WISH—BE MY GUEST!

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